Twerps

South by Southwest Aftershots

Twerps

Beale Street Tavern, March 15

Performing for a small audience in the shadow of an Elvis statue on a stage not much larger than a king-size bed, Melbourne, Australia-based foursome Twerps closed out Thursday night with a short set of altogether affable Flying Nun-style indie-pop that made you feel like you were among friends. Everything about Twerps is informal and unassuming, from its strictly utilitarian rocksteady backbeats to the endearingly bashful between-song banter of guitarist/vocalist Marty Frawley. Still, there's something mystical about the way the band is able to tap into the same forlorn, faraway jangle that once propelled remote outposts like Athens, Ga., and Christchurch, New Zealand, to musical prominence. And just when you thought the band was simply grooving on a retrocollegiate rock buzz, special weapon guitarist Julia MacFarlane would unleash a harrowing jag without breaking her stoic Bill Wyman-like stage posture. On songs such as "Bring Me Down," from the band's self-titled debut, Frawley conjured the free-range heartache of freshly obliterated love underneath a melancholic melody you couldn't turn away from. It's difficult to imagine Twerps translating its sound into mass appeal, but perhaps these off-road pockets of distant signal energy are what make the Twerps so engaging in the first place. A small-scale triumph is a triumph nonetheless.

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